DEP Highlights Research During Springs Protection Awareness Month

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DEP Highlights Research
During Springs Protection Awareness Month

~DEP is working with partners on projects to protect and restore springs~

FSG Releases Dye into Sinkhold

Scientists introduce food-grade dye into a sinkhole to determine water flow.
Monitoring will be conducted on three spring-fed rivers.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.In celebration of April being recognized as Springs Protection Awareness Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is highlighting three North Florida projects that will help protect springs.

DEP’s Florida Geological Survey (FGS) plays a leading role in research and data collection that aids in the identification of appropriate water quality improvement projects and strategies to protect and restore springs.

"Florida's springs, their flow, and various complex challenges such as the interconnected cave systems that feed them can be understood only when we have the data and the experience necessary to do the research," said Dr. Jon Arthur, State Geologist and director of the FGS. "FGS is proud to be a part of this important research that helps us better understand the aquifer system."

Three recent projects highlight the importance of research partnerships to achieve the mutual goal of springs restoration.

27 New Springs Documented: The FGS and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have combined resources to study springs in the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area in Taylor County. FGS compiled data on 14 known springs. Using this information, field data, aerial and thermal imagery, drone video and GIS analysis, FGS discovered 27 additional springs that had not been previously catalogued. The exciting discoveries from this pilot study have sparked interest in further research.

Gander Springs: FGS is working to better ascertain the groundwater flow systems supplying Gander and Shepherd springs. The springs are located within the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which spans Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties. Geologists and hydrologists studying the flow dynamics to the larger springs in the Wakulla, St. Marks River Rise and the Spring Creek springs group will also help identify how Gander and Shepherd springs interact with nearby seawater and tides.

Dye trace study: FGS and Florida State University have teamed up to study two recently active sinkholes in Lake Miccosukee in northern Jefferson County. FGS introduced a food-grade dye into one of the sinkholes. Water flowing into the sinkhole will carry the dye directly into the Floridan aquifer system. To find out where the water goes, FGS has set up monitoring stations along three spring-fed rivers where the dye may show up – Wakulla, St. Marks and Wacissa. The dye trace will provide insight into the complex groundwater mixing dynamics within the aquifer system. The dye is a nontoxic, biodegradable and environmentally safe liquid.

The aquifer system is dynamic and ever changing, and research helps evaluate the effect these changes have on groundwater and the springs that rise from it, and the factors that influence water quality and quantity.

Find more information about DEP’s Florida Geological Survey.